Should I repaint my car?
January 19, 2008 6:17 PM   Subscribe

Should I get my car repainted? I have a '97 Toyota Corolla, dark green. The clear coat on the hood and front bumper is starting to peel pretty badly, though the paint underneath seems okay.

So there are two questions--

One, do I need to repaint it for actual structural reasons?

Two, if I do repaint it, will it look terrible unless I spend a lot of money?

I kind of don't like it looking this way, but since it's a pretty old car I don't see the point in spending thousands of dollars. If I go somewhere like Earl Scheib, will it end up worse than before? I could see spending maybe $500.
posted by exceptinsects to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: one: If it isn't rusting, no. If it is on the bonnet and bumper, also no. These aren't structural at all.

Two: Don't waste your money. It'll take a lot of money to get a good spray job, and it will certainly not be reflected in any resale value you may get. And a $500 spray job will be (at best) crap. Even if it looks ok when you get it back, it'll not last more than a year or two. Spraying cars and teh quality you get is directly proportional to the time you put in - which is money if you aren't doing it yourself.

On a car that old (if it isn't going to appreciate in value) you are simply wasting your money. It woudl be very difficult to just re-lacquer the bonnet, and again, it's not worth it.

Put the $500 into a long term savings account to help when you change the car and live with teh aesthetic element in the mean time.
posted by Brockles at 6:23 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Two: Don't waste your money. It'll take a lot of money to get a good spray job,

Well, if you want only the hood and bumper repainted, I'd bet you could get a pretty decent job for not much more than $500. On the other hand, if you're in San Diego proper, that may not be the case. If you drive to your folks' or friend's place in Flagstaff or Fort Collins (or wherever) prices may be substantially lower.

Even if that's completely true, though, all you'll have is a car that's marginally better to look at. If you love your car, it's running well, and you want to keep it forever, maybe it makes sense.

Just remember that you're not getting anything near that $500 back out when you sell the car.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:30 PM on January 19, 2008

What's the resale on a 97 corolla? IMO, it's not worth it. Anything less than a top professional job will look like a respray. When I buy a car I check closely for signs of a respray- repsays are suspicious.
posted by mattoxic at 7:32 PM on January 19, 2008

Another vote for not having the car painted particularly if you're going to resell it later. A new paint job on an older economy car like that is very suspicious. A potential buyer may think that the car was wrecked. (I would anyway...)

Still, if it's just the clear coat that is having the problem it may be worth having a reputable shop check it out. They maybe able to buff, polish, or do some other magic that doesn't involve a re-spray.
posted by wfrgms at 9:20 PM on January 19, 2008

Another issue, depending on what quality of paint you use, is that it'll start out looking OK but then look a lot worse in a few years (chalky, etc.). I've been looking at repainting a lot lately--it's very expensive compared to the worth of the car. I'd consider it if you were keeping the car "forever", but not otherwise.

Shoot me an email if you need a recommendation. I was given a recommendation for a San Diego body shop (that of course does auto paint jobs). I can't vouch for them personally (haven't gone and gotten it done) but the recommender seemed to be happy with the work.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:31 PM on January 19, 2008

I 2nd RikiTikiTavi's comment about it looking crappier in a couple of years. I have an old car and the hood of it was repainted due to a repair. It looked fine at the time and matched the rest of the car, but now it is peeling and the paint is fading in a non-uniform way. The rest of the original paint job on the car has held up much better than the repainted part. The repainted part looks much older and feeble than the rest of the car due to the paint job.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:15 AM on January 20, 2008

The kind of person who drives a ten-year-old Corolla is not usually the kind of person who's trying to impress anyone with their car. This observation might be relevant now, when you own the car, and it will almost certainly be relevant later, if and when you try to sell it.

(And, if for some reason you wanted to spend $500 getting non-essential work done on your Corolla, I feel confident that other modifications, like say engine or electronic ones, would bring you more joy.)
posted by box at 6:01 AM on January 21, 2008

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